On Wednesday, October 14, I asked, in Question Period about the Pallister government's actions with respect to Personal Care Homes. Sadly, the government was very poorly prepared for the second wave of the COVID pandemic, and has made a bad mistake in putting aside the policy that workers can not be working at more than one site as a result of the very serious outbreak at Parkview Place personal care home. The government should have had a rapid response team to address this situation, as we have been calling for during the last several months. The government should also be regularly testing all staff and residents to identify individuals who are infected by asymptomatic. This last action has proved critical in other locations and is now standard practice at personal care homes in other jurisdictions * - see below).
Personal-Care Homes - Staff and Resident COVID-19 Testing
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, in response to the extremely serious outbreak in the Parkview Place personal-care home, the government has 'waised' the requirement that a person work only in one home. This measure will put people in the second home where this staffperson is working at risk.
Further, in personal-care home situations, other jurisdictions have found, in order to best prevent spread of the virus, that they need to test all staff and residents on a regular basis to identify and isolate asymptomatic infected people.
Are all staff and residents being tested on a regular basis to pick up those who are infected who are asymptomatic, and why is this government not deploying a well-trained, rapid response team, as we have repeatedly called for?
Hon. Cameron Friesen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): The member needs a reminder that he is not the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. I can assure that member, and all members, that it is the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer who has undertaken to lift, temporarily, that one worker, one site doctrine that was in place formerly.
That member can understand that, with the challenges on COVID-19-positive cases in that personal-care home, there is a need to temporarily lift that measure to allow staffing to come up fully.
I understand that there are many initiatives under way to make sure that COVID-19 is not being imported into that facility by workers who are there to help.
* As an example, I have learned that in Pennsylvania that whenever there is a case of COVID-19 infection in a personal care home, that all staff and residents are immediately tested for the virus and that such testing is then done once a week until there have been two weeks without any positive tests. After that, testing is done monthly.